Politics

The Next Culture War

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The culture war over religion and values that dominated much of the last quarter of the 20th century has ended, mostly in a rout of the right-wing zealots who waged it.

Yet even as this old conflict has receded , a new culture war may be beginning. This one is being launched largely by the religious right's long-time secularist enemies who are now enjoying unprecedented influence over our national politics.  read more »

Forcing Density in Australia's Suburbs

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Australia is a continent sized country with total urbanized area of only 0.3%.  As is the case with the USA, the population is increasing as a result of natural growth and immigration. The country is blessed with a sunny climate and enough space to enable its inhabitants to enjoy a relaxed, free lifestyle.

Given this, one would expect there would be little support for the higher density housing ideology of the Smart Growth advocates. Yet since the early 1990s the Australian Federal Department of Housing has been pushing exactly this approach.  read more »

Subsidies, Starbucks and Highways: A Primer

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At a recent Senate Banking Committee hearing, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, responding to comments about large transit subsidies, remarked that the last federal highway bill included $200 billion in subsidies for highways.

The Senator should know better. The federal highway bill builds highways with fees paid by highway users, not by subsidies.  read more »

Washington, DC: The Real Winner in this Recession

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No matter how far the economy falters, there is always a winner. And no city does better when the nation is at the brink of disaster than Washington, DC. Since December 2007, when the current recession formally began, the nation has lost approximately 6 million jobs. Only two states, Alaska and North Dakota, have lost a smaller percentage of jobs than Washington, DC, which has seen a job loss of 0.6%, or 4,400. Simply put, Washington has done better in this recession than 48 of the fifty states when it comes to job performance.  read more »

Prince Charles is Britain's Master-eco-fraudster

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Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, Norfolk, in 1737. He understood that history is made. Aged 39, writing his Common Sense, he noted that Britain is constituted of '...the base remains of two ancient tyrannies, compounded with some new republican materials.' These were:

'First. - The remains of monarchical tyranny in the person of the king

Secondly. - The remains of aristocratical tyranny in the persons of the peers.

Thirdly. - The new republican materials, in the persons of the commons, on whose virtue depends the freedom of England.' (1)  read more »

Enviro-wimps: L.A.'s Big Green Groups Get Comfy, Leaving the Street Fighting to the Little Guys

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So far, 2009 has not been a banner year for greens in Los Angeles. As the area's mainstream enviros buddy up with self-described green politicians and deep-pocketed land speculators and unions who have seemingly joined the “sustainability” cause, an odd thing is happening: Environmentalists are turning into servants for more powerful, politically-connected masters.  read more »

Who Killed California's Economy?

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Right now California's economy is moribund, and the prospects for a quick turnaround are not good. Unable to pay its bills, the state is issuing IOUs; its once strong credit rating has collapsed. The state that once boasted the seventh-largest gross domestic product in the world is looking less like a celebrated global innovator and more like a fiscal basket case along the lines of Argentina or Latvia.

It took some amazing incompetence to toss this best-endowed of places down into the dustbin of history. Yet conventional wisdom views the crisis largely as a legacy of Proposition 13, which in effect capped only taxes.

This lets too many malefactors off the hook. I covered the Proposition 13 campaign for the Washington Post and examined its aftermath up close. It passed because California was running huge surpluses at the time, even as soaring property taxes were driving people from their homes.  read more »

View from the UK: The Progressive’s Dilemma

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American progressives long have looked upon Britain’s Labour Party as an exemplar of how to prioritize social welfare without entirely alienating business. Unlike their European counterparts, whose overly suspicious view of wealth and overly generous view of social welfare spending make poor role models for America, the British Labour Party has brokered a “partnership” between wealth and welfare over the years more suitable to the American psyche.  read more »

Lessons from the Left: When Radicals Rule – For Thirty Years

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Contrary to popular notions held even here in southern California, Santa Monica was never really a beach town or bedroom community. It was a blue-collar industrial town, home to the famed Douglas Aircraft from before World War II until the 1970s.

When I first lived there in the early ’70s, the city was pretty dilapidated, decaying and declining (except for the attractive neighborhoods of large expensive homes in the city’s northern sections). I remember a lot of retirees, students, and like me and my wife, renters of small apartments in old buildings. The tiredness of the place was incongruous with its great location and weather. But then the first of several spectacular rises in real estate values took off.  read more »

Amid Obama's Change is More of the Same

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The Obama administration has been, so far, hierarchical and even conservative in its thinking. Following and even surpassing the Bush administration’s reliance on an M.B.A.-trained elite, which drove the country nearly to ruin, the Obama approach seems to boil down to finding the smartest guy in the room, rather than utilizing people with hands-on experience or acquired wisdom.  read more »